Over the past few weeks I have been doing A LOT of reading about GLBT organizing in different countries. It’s been really interesting (and at times, very confusing) and I feel that I’ve learned a lot about different organizing strategies.
However, over the last week or so there has been something on my mind that I feel merits talking about a little bit. That is, the organization of “special interest groups.”
I once dated a guy (who I ended up breaking up with after about 2 weeks) who thought that special interest groups were destroying the United States. “We can’t focus on what the average American needs because we’re paying attention to the minority,” he said (can you tell he was a middle-class white guy?) At the time I just smiled and nodded. But after 3 years and a lot more education I finally have a good rebuttal to this attitude.
I’ll start by asking, don’t we all have special interests? Isn’t there something that you feel strongly about that isn’t being represented by someone? It may be that as a woman you feel your intelligence is being attacked on a daily basis (I’ve certainly felt that way over the last year or so as the GOP has started to campaign.) As a person of color you may feel that you’re being treated unfairly by a system that is set up for only a privileged few. As a gay person you may feel outrage at the fact that you don’t have equal rights. My point is, if you think long and hard enough you’ll find your “special interest.”
Secondly, the fact that groups dedicated to equal rights are designated as “special interest” is ridiculous! (yes, just jumping in with my opinion right away.) So, because you want to have equal rights with what is viewed as the majority (middle-class white guys) you have a “special interest”? I think that this designation is really just a ploy to make people think that you want more than basic human dignity. If you have a “special interest” you want to be elevated above the average American, right? No, not right!
So, in short… let’s get rid of this idea of “special interests.” Because 9 times out of 10 they’re not anything special. Members of these groups are just looking for the same rights that everyone else has.
**Disclaimer: I know that I come off pretty strong on middle-class white guys in this post. I have nothing against them. I even married one of them. I’m simply saying that they are more privileged than almost everyone else.**